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Monday, April 13, 2009

Award Winning Dissertation: Dr. Gutierrez extends the life and mission of her scholarship by offering her work through her dissertation blogs.

Earlier this year, Raquel was awarded the Innovative ETD Award from the National Networked Digital library of Theses and Dissertations Award for media-enhanced dissertation and the Outstanding Scholarship Award, from the Ohio Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Association.

Excerpts from her Award Statement
I confess. I am a practitioner at heart. As such, it is makes perfect sense that my dissertation be a product that is practical, usable, and timely. In part, the long-standing disconnect between practitioners and academics motivated me to pursue a PhD. I firmly believe that academics and practitioners of social change can equally benefit from each other’s life-experience and knowledge. More importantly, I think there is a unique and exciting opportunity to create valuable and useful ideas for realizing inclusive social change through the cross fertilization between these two groups.

Critical Social Moments Require Innovation
In an effort to make my dissertation align with key changes occurring in contemporary social change work, I wanted to promote the concept of open source technology and take advantage of it ability share knowledge and connect people. In addition, previous scholars in my PhD program had developed innovative means of using their dissertations and I too wanted to be part of that legacy. The approach I finally chose is what the Founder of the Fiscal Policy Institute, Mark Friedman, calls a “low cost or no cost” solution; in this case, the free technology known as “blogger”. Initially, I intended to use a blog site, www.22ndCenturyLeadership.blogspot.com, I had started before my dissertation research. The goal of this initial blog site shares information that demonstrates it is possible to practice alignment between the values of social justice and the acts that realize social justice by exploring the transformation of language, ways of thinking, and individual and organizational practices.

Somewhere in the process of planning my dissertation research, I realized the advantage of a blog site solely dedicated to sharing the interviews, overall findings of my dissertation, and to generate dialogue between readers on the topic of life-affirming leadership. I conveniently blocked out the fact that I had only made one or two entries on my initial blog site due to the stress associated with maintaining a quality blog site, which requires constant attention. Thus, my commitment to making my dissertation a conduit for an ongoing opportunity for discussion lead me to overlook the anxiety that came with the stewardship of my first blog site and the “Voices” blog site was created. While on the Voices blog site, www.22ndCenturyLeadershipVoices.blogspot.com, readers can watch videos of social justice workers discussing their experiences with transforming the culture of social justice work and what they have learned as social change leader. In an effort to develop a relationship between the two blog sites, when a reader clicks into one blog site they are able to easily access the sister blog through a designated link.

When I made the decision to make the blog sites part of my dissertation, I can honestly say I did not know what I was getting into. Not only did I lack experience on how to video, which I naively thought would be “easy enough to learn”, I had no idea how to transfer videos and sound clips; nor did I know if there was even enough storage space to store numerous interviews on the blog site. In order to finish my dissertation by the set deadline, I had to quickly overcome the learning curve, which I was able to do.

13 comments:

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